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DMN: Infractions are taking heavy toll on Dallas Cowboys


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Infractions are taking heavy toll on Dallas Cowboys

By BRIAN DAVIS / The Dallas Morning News


IRVING – Everybody makes mistakes. Many coaches believe that football is a game of mistakes. Those who limit their errors usually come out on top.

The Cowboys aren't perfect, as their 4-3 record indicates. But they're killing themselves with penalties.

Officials have called 57 penalties on the Cowboys this season. It's the second-highest total in the NFL, one behind league-leading Green Bay. That total doesn't include eight penalties that were declined.

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The Cowboys are on pace to have the fourth-highest penalty total in franchise history. What should bother Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, coach Wade Phillips and the players is that many of the team's wounds are self-inflicted.

"The penalties are hurting us, keeping us from being successful," Jason Witten said. "All of us have to be more accountable. We can't make those mistakes. More than anything, the presnap penalties, that's the most [painful]."

Twenty-five of the 57 penalties called against the Cowboys were things they can control, like false starts, illegal motion, unsportsmanlike conduct and, in the case of the Washington game, one backbreaking 12-men-on-the-field penalty.

"Those are just concentration issues," Terrell Owens said. "I don't think you can coach that. That's personal stuff. You just have to take pride in those things. We can go out here every day and create loud noise or game-type situations. But it just comes with concentration."

When most Cowboys fans think about false-start penalties, they immediately think of Flozell Adams. He tied a career high with nine false-start penalties last season, according to Stats Inc. But this season, he's had only two. So does fellow offensive tackle Marc Colombo.

As a team, the Cowboys have 11 false-start penalties, tied for fourth most in the league.

Witten had two false starts against Arizona. Rookie Martellus Bennett had one last week against St. Louis when the Cowboys lined up to go for it on fourth-and-1 at the Rams' 24-yard line. After the penalty, Nick Folk missed a 46-yard field goal.

False starts are understandable on the road. The last two weeks, the Cowboys played in noisy, hostile environments in Arizona and St. Louis. The team usually plays loud music during practice to get players accustomed to the noise.

Other penalties are simply baffling. The Cowboys were called for a delay-of-game penalty with 7:34 remaining against Cincinnati. This came on first-and-10 from the Dallas 20 after a change of possession.

Some are just human error. Patrick Watkins said he didn't hear the defensive coaches change the personnel grouping during a timeout against the Redskins.

That's how the Cowboys had 12 men on the field on a critical third-and-2 from the Dallas 31 in the fourth quarter. The defense stuffed Clinton Portis, but the Redskins got a first down by penalty. Washington finished the drive with a pivotal 29-yard field goal in the Cowboys' 26-24 loss.

Players usually don't call out someone else's mistakes as it relates to penalties. They know what happened during games, though. They all see what happened during film sessions, too.

"I think more than anything, it's accountability to your teammates," Phillips said. "Players take pride in trying to do the right things."

Phillips said he's examined the penalties and noticed that Cowboys opponents have been called for 51 penalties. There's not a huge disparity. Officiating crews are generally calling an equal number of penalties on both teams.

That still doesn't excuse the fact the Cowboys are making presnap mistakes.

"Teams that jump offside, and defensively I'm speaking, sometimes they're the leading teams on the pass rush," Phillips said. "You can't say never do this. Even teams that false start a little bit protect well, too. There's a fine line in there."

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I remember as far back to the George Allen days that line penalties reflect poorly on coaching.

We only need think back to the days of Norvis. It was no coincidence that a team of good players that were badly coached had tons of stupid penalties.

Wade is ruining the pukes...Jerruh has destroyed all that Bill built.

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how many lame excuses can people make for the pokes?

I thought the same thing. It's the false start penalties that are causing the defensive line to get pushed 7 yards downfield. The penalties are a symptom of the Cowboys ills not the cause of them.

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Officials have called 57 penalties on the Cowboys this season. It's the second-highest total in the NFL

The Cowboys are on pace to have the fourth-highest penalty total in franchise history.

They really are the new Raiders.

This article focuses on false starts killing them this year. This is nothing new to Dallas. They've falsely started the past few seasons well only flounder in December and January.

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